6 Ways to Beat Small-Business Burnout

by Teri Cettina on October 10, 2011
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Back when you launched your small business, you probably found it downright exciting to send out press releases, see your company logo on a door or product packaging, and field questions from new customers. No task was too mundane: You were running a company! But after a few months or years of doing everything from opening the mail to updating your website, you’re exhausted — and you may be starting to question this entrepreneurship thing.

Burnout is extremely common among small-business owners, but it doesn’t have to get the best of you. Here are six ways to recapture the thrill of being your own boss:

  1. Cut back your hours. Do you really need to check email during dinner or read competitors’ blogs at 11 p.m.? You may have gotten into the habit of burning the midnight oil when your business was in startup mode, but chances are good that you can work a little less now that it’s established.
  2. Recharge your batteries. Running a business can suck all the creative energy out of you. Rebuild your reserves by doing something that you really enjoy in your free time. Ideally, it should have nothing to do with your job. Consider taking an oil-painting class or training for a triathlon.
  3. Delegate your lesser tasks. Offload some of your routine, mind-numbing chores to a virtual assistant, employee, or outside service. Save your brainpower for bigger-picture decisions, important meetings, and jobs that only you can do.
  4. Prioritize your health. Healthy business owners are happier business owners. Put exercise or gym time on your calendar like any other appointment. Trade fast-food lunches for healthier fare. Get more shut-eye. And if you’re relying on caffeine to prop you up, cut back slowly (so your withdrawal edginess doesn’t frighten employees and customers).
  5. Challenge your business “musts.” For instance, is every client (even that incredibly high-maintenance one) worth keeping? Do you need such a wide range of products, or could you cut back to a few core, best-selling items? Do you really owe that overpriced vendor your business, just because he was supportive when you launched your company? Decrease your stress by letting go of expectations and people that don’t work well for you now.
  6. Rally your support team. Remember: You don’t have to go it alone. Meet for coffee regularly with a colleague who’s a great sounding board. Or join a professional association (online or in your local community) that’s related to your industry. Other business owners can be useful sources of ideas and inspiration — and help you regain some of the passion that pushed you to start your business to begin with.
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